Friday :: May 16, 2008

When Grown-Ups Think

by Turkana

It's not often, in this era, that there's good foreign policy news to report, so it's worth taking notice. Of course, the good news has nothing to do with the Bush Administration, and they likely will do nothing about it. But Steve Clemons has an important new report by serious people who actually want to progress our policy with Cuba. Presumably, the next administration will be interested in what serious people have to say.

The Council on Foreign Relations has just released a zinger report on Latin America. It's just fantastic, and I have to admit that I rarely find myself doing jumping jacks and running around my block in Dupont Circle in Washington after reading a CFR Task Force report. But I am.

I think that the 96-page document is stacked full of sensible thinking and proposals that on each and every page fundamentally reject the kind of self-destructive pugnacious nationalism that former Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Jesse Helms and his chief acolyte John Bolton have helped institutionalize.

It's just so good. The report is titled U.S.-Latin America Relations: A New Direction for a New Reality and can be downloaded as a pdf here.

On Cuba, specifically, the report suggests the following:

1. Permit freer travel to and facilitate trade with Cuba. The White House should repeal the 2004 restrictions placed on Cuban-American family travel and remittances.

2. Reinstate and liberalize the thirteen categories of licensed people-to-people "purposeful travel" for other Americans, instituted by the Clinton administration in preparation for the 1998 Papal Visit to Havana.

3. Hold talks on issues of mutual concern to both parties, such as migration, human smuggling, drug trafficking, public health, the future of the Guantanamo naval base, and on environmentally sustainable resource management, especially as Cuba, with a number of foreign oil companies, begins deep water exploration for potentially significant reserves.

4. Work more effectively with partners in the western hemisphere and in Europe to press Cuba on its human rights record and for more democratic reform.

5. Mindful of the last one hundred years of U.S.-Cuba relations, assure Cubans on the island that the United States will pursue a respectful arm's-length relationship with a democratic Cuba.

6. Repeal the 1996 Helms-Burton law, which removed most of the executive branch's authority to eliminate economic sanctions. While moving to repeal the law, the U.S. Congress should pass legislative measures, as it has with agricultural sales, designed to liberalize trade with and travel to Cuba, while supporting opportunities to strengthen democratic institutions there.

Our long-standing, bipartisan hypocrisy on Cuba has done nothing but punish the Cuban people, both there and in exile. Fidel Castro survived and thrived, while we maintained close ties to far worse regimes. This is a great time and opportunity to move towards a rational and compassionate approach. Not to mention one that might actually help push Cuba towards liberalization and democratization.

Turkana :: 3:42 PM :: Comments (7) :: Digg It!